Ryan Winfield Jane's Melody

ISBN 13: 9780988348264

Jane's Melody

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9780988348264: Jane's Melody

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal BestsellerWhat boundaries would you cross for true love?
That's the question a grieving mother must answer when she takes in a young street musician to learn about her daughter's death and finds herself falling for him. A sexy but touching love story that will have you equally tantalized and in tears, Jane's Melody follows a forty-year-old woman on a romantic journey of rediscovery after years of struggling alone.
Sometimes our greatest gifts come from our greatest pain. And now Jane must decide if it's too late for her to start over, or if true love really knows no age.
 
Jane's Melody may not be suitable for younger readers due to sexual content.

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About the Author:

Ryan Winfield is the New York Times bestselling author of Jane’s HarmonyJane’s Melody, South of Bixby Bridge, and the Park Service trilogy. He lives in Seattle. To connect with Ryan, visit him at RyanWinfield.com.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Jane's Melody

Chapter 1

The day after the funeral, Jane came back to the island cemetery and sat in her car, watching the rain fall on her daughter’s grave. It had been raining seventeen days straight, according to the news. But Jane didn’t care—the rain matched her mood.

She left the ignition on, with the wipers set on delay, and she watched as the water slid down the windshield, obscuring the dreary view beyond. She kept telling herself it wasn’t true, that her Melody wasn’t really gone. But then the wipers would sweep away the rain, and she’d be looking once again at her daughter’s freshly covered grave.

Yesterday she had huddled beneath a tent, along with the small congregation of mourners, including her mother and her brother, neither of whom she could stand, and watched as the casket went down, wishing it were her inside instead of Melody. There were a few words spoken by the minister from the island church, and that was it. Her daughter was gone for good.

“A mother’s not supposed to bury her daughter.”

That’s what her own mother had said to her as they walked back to the car. And she was right, although the way she said it left Jane feeling as if her mother blamed her.

And maybe she was to blame, she thought.

A stab of guilt shot up Jane’s spine, doubling her over in agony. She chanted her sponsor’s slogan for relief: “I didn’t cause it, I couldn’t control it. I didn’t cause it, I couldn’t control it. I didn’t cause it, I couldn’t control it.”

When she was able to sit up again, she reached into the glove box and fished through the papers for the emergency pack of Virginia Slims she kept hidden there. She tapped a cigarette from the pack, fumbled the lighter lit with a shaking hand, and inhaled one long drag of calming smoke. Then she cracked the window and flicked the cigarette out into the rain.

The wipers swept the windshield clean again, and Jane nearly screamed when she saw a strange man standing over her daughter’s grave. What was he doing here? His head was bent, either in mourning or to read the freshly engraved stone, and he wore a gray coat and rain-soaked blue jeans.

Jane felt suddenly guilty, as if she were spying on a private moment between her daughter and this stranger. That would have sounded silly to Jane had she said it out loud, but it made perfect sense somehow inside her own head.

The man bent and laid something on the grave.

Did he bring flowers? she wondered.

She reached for the wiper switch to clear the windshield again, but she hit the high beams and accidentally flashed her headlights. Just as the wipers were sweeping the window clear, the man turned and looked at Jane. Never before had she been so startled and so captivated at the same time. He was young—under thirty, for sure—but the blank, almost numb expression on his face, combined with the distance in his gaze, betrayed a hidden pain of someone far beyond his age. He carried no umbrella, but he wore a baseball cap and rain poured off its brim, his eyes set in pools of shadow. As they looked at each other, her in the car, him straddling her daughter’s grave, the rain streamed down the glass and slowly melted him from her view, until just a watery silhouette was left. Then that too was washed away. Several seconds later the wipers swept across the windshield again, but the stranger was gone.

Jane was soaked by the time she walked the twenty feet from her car to the grave. She stood where the stranger had stood and looked around, but he was nowhere to be seen. When she looked down, she thought how strange it was to see the strips of grass already laid back over the grave, the edges marked by muddy stains. She knew the coming spring would see the grass take root again, sealing Melody forever beneath it in a patient world belonging only to the dead. She wanted to roll the grass back and plant her hands in the dirt and dig until she reached her daughter. She wanted to climb inside the casket and hold her in her arms, as she had when Melody was still a little girl—before the drinking, before the drugs. And why not let them come and cover the grave back up and leave them down there together? she thought. She felt dead already anyway.

The glint of something on the grass caught Jane’s eye.

She bent and picked up the coin that the stranger had left. Nothing special, just a silver dollar minted in 1973, the year Jane was born. She held the coin in her palm as if it were as fragile as a robin’s egg, and she wondered what its significance was and why the stranger had left it. Jane knew so little about her daughter, hardly having spoken with her for an entire year before she died. She longed for a connection to Melody’s life—some way to understand what had happened, a chance to make sense of the senseless, if that were even possible.

She stood a long time in the rain, looking at the coin in her hand, lost in her remembering, until she was drenched from head to toe and the coin rested beneath a pool of water in her palm. She had intended to return it to the grave where the stranger had left it, but without knowing why, she slipped the coin into her pocket and walked back to her car.



Jane pulled into the small garage of her 1950s rambler and put the car in park, but she didn’t turn it off right away. She closed her eyes and let the heater blow over her face. Odors of her wet clothes mixed with pine air freshener and the lingering trace of her cigarette smoke. When she opened her eyes again, she angled the rearview mirror to see herself with the practiced motion of a woman who has checked her makeup a thousand times before a thousand boring coffee shop appointments to sell a thousand boring insurance policies. But for the first time she didn’t recognize the face staring back from the rectangular glass. And it wasn’t the lack of makeup that left her confused; it was the hopelessness in those eyes.

She reached up and pressed the garage door remote and watched as the shadow of its closing slid across the mirror, erasing her face until it retreated completely into darkness. The garage bulb had burned out long ago, and she’d been too busy to replace it—just as she’d been too busy to seek out her daughter and offer help. But she was glad for the lack of light now as she cracked the window and reclined her seat.

The car’s illuminated dashboard cast dots of light onto the upholstered ceiling, and she pretended that they were really faraway stars. She remembered reading somewhere that carbon monoxide was odorless, but she smelled the gas fumes wafting in through the cracked window. She focused on her breathing, maybe for the first time since that Lamaze class her friend had dragged her to when she was pregnant with Melody. Hard to believe that was twenty years ago now. Where does time slip away to when you’re not looking? she wondered.

People had told her that life would go by fast.

But nobody said it would go by in a flash.

She began to drift off to a comfortable place between this world and the next, surrendering her thoughts to a state where time has no hold over events and where memories unfold and mesh together with lost hopes and forgotten dreams.

She remembered, she remembered, she remembered . . .

Holding her newborn daughter.

Purple cheeks, a button nose.

The hungry cry silenced by her breast, the joy of providing nourishment for someone so perfect.

Oh, to go back!

To be there forever in that warmth.

Stay, stay, stay.

Her mind flicked forward five years to their first night in this house. She saw again her daughter’s smile when they woke to see snow outside the window. She remembered gripping the tiny, mitten-clad hand and leading Melody down the street to investigate their new neighborhood. Strange, she thought, but the little pink rubber boots Melody had worn that day were in a box somewhere in this very garage where she sat remembering.

These memories were snatched away by a shrill sound.

A persistent ringing inside the house.

After a time Jane opened her eyes in the dark and tried to guess who might be calling. She’d gotten a home phone only because it had come bundled with her Internet service, and nobody even had the number except her sponsor. Let it ring, she thought. But then she knew that she couldn’t. She knew that if she didn’t answer, Grace would come looking for her. The thought of Grace being the one to discover her body, after all that she had done for Jane, was too much to add to the guilt already heaped onto her final thoughts.

She was dizzy getting out of the car, and by the time she reached the phone, it had stopped ringing. She stood beside it with her hand on the table, waiting for Grace to call again, as she knew she would. Ten seconds later it rang, and she lifted it off the cradle and forced herself to smile as she said, “Hello.”

“Hi, Jane. It’s Grace.”

“Oh, hi, Grace.”

“I’ve been calling your cell all day. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Jane said. “Just fine.”

“Come on, J. Don’t tell me that.”

“Don’t tell you what?”

“You know what ‘fine’ stands for, don’t you?” When Jane didn’t respond, Grace answered for her. “It stands for ‘fucked up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional.’ ”

Jane couldn’t help but laugh, just a little. “Well, in that case,” she said, “I’m doing really, really fine.”

“I’m coming over,” Grace said.

Jane looked around at the mess—bedding still piled on the couch, dirty dishes stacked on the kitchen counter. She shook her head. You’d think her mother and brother could have at least cleaned up after themselves, since they had insisted on coming for the funeral but had been too cheap to stay at a motel. But no, they’d come and made it all about them and somehow managed to turn the most horrible day even worse.

“How about I come over there?” Jane suggested. “I was just heading off somewhere anyway, and I left the car running in the garage.”



Her clothes had mostly dried by the time she pulled into the parking lot of Harbor Condominiums.

Grace buzzed her in, and she took the elevator to the third floor. She had barely raised her hand to knock when Grace flung the door open and hugged her.

“Oh, dear Lord, you’re soaking wet. Come in here and sit down. I’ll make us some coffee. I’ve got Peet’s. Or would you rather have chocolate?”

“Coffee’s good. Thanks.”

Jane sat in an overstuffed chair and looked out the living room window at the marina below. The sailboat masts moved back and forth with a hypnotic rhythm, and the rain poured down, illuminated against the dusky sky by the orange-vapor dock lights, even though the clock on the fireplace mantel said it was only three in the afternoon.

Grace handed her a steaming mug.

“Two Splendas and a drop of cream,” she said, sitting in the chair across from Jane. “Just the way you like it.”

Jane held the mug in both hands, letting its warmth thaw her cold fingers. She took a sip and smiled at Grace to let her know that it was good. Grace sighed and leaned back in her chair and looked at Jane, but she didn’t say a thing. A long time passed with the two women just sitting there together, the only sound the faint clanking of metal sailboat riggings through the insulated glass.

“Whatever happened to your sailboat?” Jane finally asked.

“Oh, God,” Grace said. “That thing? Best day of our lives when we sold it. I thought I told you. Bob tried to pretend it was the real estate crash. But he wasn’t any more a sailor than I am. Oh, I hated that thing. Cramped as the day is long. And the day is long when you’re on the water with nothing to do.”

There was another long silence between them.

“Did I tell you about that time we took it to the islands? I didn’t? Bob made me promise, but oh hell, it’s too good not to tell. He anchored us for a romantic sunset dinner. Popped a bottle of sparkling cider and everything. Even had a red rose. Said he wanted to rekindle our sex life. Of course he fell asleep before he even got a spark going. Anyway, the tide went out while we were down below and grounded us on a sandbar. Tilted it like a toy. We woke up when we fell off the bunk. Bob sprained his wrist. And, adding insult to his injury, we had to get towed off by the Coast Guard. Lord, it was embarrassing.”

Jane smiled and sipped her coffee. She had forgotten how much better she always felt just being around Grace. But her relief was cut short when a stab of pain shot through her as she remembered that her daughter was dead. Grace must have seen it on her face because she let out a sigh and said, “I’d ask you how you’re doing, but I can’t imagine you’d even know how to answer.”

Jane fought back the tears and just shook her head.

“Is there anyone still at your house?” Grace asked.

“They left last night,” Jane said.

“Were they drinking?”

“My brother was. And my mother should’ve been. Can you believe they fought so loud that my neighbor called me to make sure everything was all right? And she’s half an acre away. The night before the funeral too. I’d be embarrassed if I even cared about anything right now. God, I hate my family, Grace. I know it’s not right to, but I hate them anyway.”

“Have you tried praying for them?” Grace asked.

“I’ve prayed for them to get what they deserve.”

“Good enough,” Grace said, with just a hint of a grin.

A gust of wind drove rain against the window, and the masts crisscrossed faster against the darkening sky.

After a while Grace stood and said, “I’m going to fix the spare bed with fresh sheets for you. And don’t even think to try and tell me no, because Bob’s on an overnight to Dallas and I could use the company. I’m too old to be spending stormy nights alone. If you’re up for it, I’ll get the umbrellas and we can walk to the pub for some chowder.”

Jane knew that any protest would be useless, so she just nodded and watched Grace walk off down the hall. When she was gone, Jane looked back out the window at the rain.

She knew it would stop someday. She knew spring would come and bring a fresh wind to blow the clouds away. And she knew the summer sun would rise again and paint the world once more with the colors she used to love. She knew it as well as she knew anything. She just didn’t believe it.|Jane's Melody

Chapter 2

The car behind Jane’s honked its horn.

She shifted into drive and drove onto the ferry. She was in the front of a vehicle lane, behind a group of dripping cyclists clad in yellow rain gear making their workday commute. They looked miserable but determined as they stowed their bikes and filed past her car on their way up to the onboard cafeteria, their clip-on bike shoes clacking loudly on the metal stairs. A ferry worker came around and blocked her tires, the corners of his bearded mouth half attempting a smile, but giving it up when he saw the hopeless expression on her face.

For everyone else it was just another day.

With the ferry under way, Jane sat in her car and watched the dark rain clouds drift across Elliott Bay. The ferry vibrated under the thrust of its engines and her pine-tree air freshener bounced on its string ...

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